Universal Music Group (UMG) suspended all operations in Russia and closed its offices in the country. UMG staff in the country will continue to receive salaries for an indefinite period, while artists will have most of their recordings on hold.
“Effective immediately, we are suspending all operations in Russia and closing our offices there,” read a statement from Universal on March 8. “We urge an end to the violence in Ukraine as soon as possible. We adhere to international sanctions and, along with our employees and artists, have worked with groups from various countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary, to support humanitarian aid efforts to provide urgent aid to refugees in the region.
The move comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its second week. Universal joins several other companies in the music and entertainment industry that have boycotted the Russian market, including Netflix, which pulled its service, and Live Nation, which will no longer do business with and in Russia. Spotify also revealed last week that it would close its offices in Russia ‘indefinitely’ but plans to keep its service ‘operational in Russia to enable the global flow of news’, while streaming platform TikTok has also downsized its platform. within the campaign.
In the UK, PRS for Music, which represents the rights of more than 160,000 songwriters and music publishers worldwide, has “suspended with immediate effect” its rights representation agreement with Russian authors’ society RAO.
Following Universal’s decision to withdraw its operations from Russia, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, which also have local labels and operations in Russia, did not officially withdraw their commercial formats from the country. However, Sony, along with Disney and Warner Bros. halted the release of films in Russia. Additionally, Sony and Microsoft, EA have suspended all new sales of their products and services in Russia.
On March 4, Warner Music Group sent a note to employees saying “like you, we have been deeply saddened, moved and disturbed by the impact the fighting in Ukraine has had on millions of people, especially innocent families, children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations,” and said the company would match all employee donations to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“In addition to our work with the ICRC, we have made donations to Polish Humanitarian Aid and Project Hope, both of which provide refugees with medical supplies, food and other basic items, while protecting the safety and dignity of the displaced,” read Warner’s letter, which also highlighted support for the Afya Foundation’s Ukraine Wish List, which helps bring supplies to those in need. “We are also working to provide our Polish team in Warsaw with supplies and resources. Our colleagues there are among those helping to house and support Ukrainian refugees who have been able to cross the border. We are grateful and honored for their efforts, and are in regular contact to keep up to date with the local situation.
The music industry players join a growing list of more than 200 international companies that have already suspended or shut down operations in Russia, including Apple, Samsung, MasterCard, Visa and IKEA. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have suspended operations in Russia indefinitely.